What do the receptors on my retina do

when there are no rainbow hues to stimulate them 

Do they relax in some lounge behind my eyes
and talk about those shameful reds and unspeakable yellows
while all the while secretly yearning to couple with them
in some orgiastic explosion of retinal pleasure

The universe today is gray and occasionally black
but who notices the difference, really
A fog drifted in today to hide the margins
between up and down, east and west
A blessing, I suppose, except for us
who seem to want to notice the difference

I remember color
A box of crayons
A bag of marbles
A western sunset
A face full of crocus
A meeting with Van Gogh’s Starry Night

That’s the problem with April
She holds assignations with stormy January
while dreaming of running off with sunny June – Fickle bitch
Too much gray can possibly elevate cholesterol,
bring on dementia, and a rash on the hands
or perhaps reveal deeper meaning where none exists

There are many ways to eat a Peep. The most popular and “normal” way is to tear open the box and twist one off and pop it into the mouth. No preparation required.

The second, and most highly guarded secret method, is the Camp Fire Girls method: ram a stick through one and hold it over a fire in the deep woods ( with parental supervision and letters of permission by the appropriate attending physician ) until it is blackened and flaming and then pop it into the mouth. Purists mash it between Graham Crackers with a square of chocolate in there somewhere. What a waste of good chocolate. Go figure.

Whether this is the third or whatever number nobody knows, but Peeps have been known to be melted on top of a pan of banana pudding in the oven. I am not personally fond of this method but my mother liked it and forced it upon me from time to time just to demonstrate, I am sure, the line of command.

I just found out from a visiting friend that her family loves them frozen. I suppose there is a crunch involved and then there is the cold sensation. It takes all kinds.

If there is a default method of consuming Peeps, it would have to be this: leave them exposed to the elements until completely desiccated. I can see that. Since there is no known record of a spoiled or “gone by” Peep, I can see how this method might have some promise and why it is the undisputed bottom line fundamental Peep position. There are always leftover Peeps in broken packages and they always dry out. It’s a no-brainer. Eat’m, don’t throw them out.

Well, I think that’s it for the Peep Season for 2011. I look forward to it in 2012. I have a few left over and I am sure they will survive. I just hope I do.

Be well, and stay tuned.

What a lovely shirt Michelle sent to me. I love black. It deemphasizes my gut. A perfect Easter. A little chainsawing. A little reading. A little ham and cabbage. And presents! I even ate two peeps without any gastric difficulties. (So far) No hurry. The “use by date” on the box was the year 4025.

Happiness is a Peep in the mouth and one in the hand!

And just think. The day began with an omelette with SPAM on the side!!!

Jerry H – iPhone

I suppose I am a child of my times. I guess that’s where we all are. Those early experiences we all had somehow find a way to influence our thoughts and emotions for the rest of our lives. I always heard it and now am experiencing it: the older I get the more those early experiences seem to come into play.

Here’s the thing: I remember when the telephone man brought our first phone to the house at 3711 Pontiac St. in Baton Rouge. It was a bakelite monstrosity that weighed 15 pounds if an ounce. The number was 4881. We shared a two party line for a while until single party lines were available. Mrs. Davis, a kind of relative, was our partyliner and had the habit of picking up on our ring. I can hear my mother firmly telling her to hang up, as it was clear when the line was open on the other end.

I loved to talk on the phone. As the “kid” in the room, I seldom had that chance. I remember once the phone rang in 1942 and it was my uncle Jerry, after whom I was nicknamed, calling from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was a gunner’s mate on a destroyer. I said Hi uncle Jerry, you sound so far away, and he said he was. He said, put your aunt Clara on. I called out to aunt Clara, it’s uncle Jerry come quick. To this day I wish he had asked me how I was doing. I’m sure he wanted to know.

She got on the phone and they talked a long time. She hung up and looked at us all gathered around in that little confining living room, and said, He’s going to sea. He didn’t say so but I know it. He’s going to sea. My mother made a pot of coffee. And he did go to sea. The Coral Sea, Saipan, Guadalcanal, Midway. He came home without a scratch after all that and drank himself to death.

It wasn’t long before I had friends who called and we talked so long. We were being with each other on the telephone. It wasn’t necessary to keep saying things – just knowing that on the other end was someone you cared about was enough. It was communicating over a new medium. Conversation was a big thing in our culture. The advent of the telephone simply expanded that opportunity.

Mostly the phone these days is used in a utilitarian manner. Making appointments. Ordering stuff. If someone lives far away there may be a long conversation now and then. Email, chat, and FaceBook seem to have usurped the phone these days to a large degree. A multitude of micro Twitter-like messages take the place of long conversations with long pauses and deep sighs.

It’s still a thrill for me to get a call from a valued friend and realize they just want to talk a while and catch up – real time – live conversation. I love that line by Paul Simon, “These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long distance call.” It seemed that way to me then. Still does.

I got such a call today. And old friend, and we talked about life and how with each passing year it becomes more precious. We’ll see each other again in the summer and take a boat ride out into the middle of the lake and talk and toss back a few and bask in the aura of that original low tech communication application: live conversation, interspersed with meaningful periods of silence. No electricity required.

Tomorrow this would be a different list but for now it’ll do.

1 The Cloister and the Hearth (Reade)
2 Crossing to Safety (Stegner)
3 Devices and Desires (James)
4 Religion on the American Frontier (Sweet)
5 Watership Down (Adams)
6 The Iliad (Homer)
7 Blink (Gladwell)
8 Everything Robert B Parker wrote
9 Annals of the Former World (McPhee)
10 The Control of Nature (McPhee)
11 Anything by Billy Collins
12 Blue Highways: A Journey Into America (William Least Heat-Moon
13 River Horse (Heat-Moon)
14 Everything Tony Hillerman wrote
15 The Teachings of Don Juan (Castaneda)


It’s a dark and stormy morning. There’s whistling and moaning About the eaves and gables. Bean sized drops are blown horizontally against the window pane. A good time for sleeping in but I seemed wired, expectant, energized. The elements are perturbed all around me and I am, so far, safe and dry in my room.

It means little in the long term. Just as our forebears did, I’ll hunker down in the mouth of my cave and wait for the storm to pass and then wait to see if the sun shines again.

Better minds have wondered why those ancients moved from their snug holes in the hillside. Dangerous neighbors? Lack of food? Domestic strife? I wonder what it would take to move me from mine. Could a storm such as this do it?

I think it may be wise to make a back-up pot of coffee while the power is still on. Maybe throw a slice of bacon on the stove, just in case. Such are the random bubbles of nonsense rising to the surface of the dark pond of my morning mind.

Jerry Henderson

At first I thought it was red squirrels or mice in the walls. It has happened before. It sounded like crumpling paper or scampering little feet. Then I thought these over priced hearing aids were on the fritz again. “They” use the term, hearing instruments. For what I paid for them I’ll call them whatever the hell I want. Then I remembered rain was forecast. I raised the window and reached out and gathered a hand full of rain drops. I could actually hear them. It was very pleasant. I left the window “cracked” just a bit. The better to hear those scampering little feet.

Recently, I saw a video of five young girls, known as the Cactus Cuties, singing the National Anthem at a basketball game in Lubbock, TX. I have a son living there and he keeps me advised. It was a stylized and somewhat sensational rendition of the traditional tune that was hardly recognizable, at least to these tired old ears.

It’s a free country and I suppose you can sing anything any way you want to, but I am a bit tired of your rock star mashups, comedienne crash-ups, Met star put-ups and yes, those lovely Cactus Cuties rendering their stylized version of the National Anthem to promote their obvious talent when nothing is more thrilling than an arena filled with real American Patriots lifting their untrained and unprepared voices to the rafters with a soul rich pride that truly represents a national force. It’s not a performance piece folks, it’s a group sing.

We have outsourced the singing of the National Anthem, and it is wrong! But wait! Is it a National Anthem? Isn’t it really a sporting event theme song – really? When is the last time you have heard the National Anthem at some place other than a sporting event? Forgive me for bringing this up, but it used to happen when I was a kid that the people sang the song, even at sporting events, but when have you sung it? Maybe the 5th grade?

I’ll give you this much: it’s a hard song to sing. When you realize it is, after all, an adaptation of a colonial era bar tune, it becomes clear that only after a few tall ones would such an impossible tune sound melodious. Be that as it may, certain of our political forebears have decreed that it is the tune and lyric that embodies our national pride and purpose. Until it is officially changed, it should be performed in such a manor that reflects a populist, non-professional, expression of love for country. Singing it does not constitute an endorsement to what some yo-yos in Washington have done to your country. It is is not a political party song but a non-partisan National Song.

So at the opening game at Fenway tomorrow, give everybody a cheat sheet with the words and have some one on pitchers mound, not to perform but to lead the fans in the singing of the National Anthem. It is a primal expression of participatory democracy, right up there with voting.

I’ve seen real antiques. They are occasionally functional, not scratched up, not repaired badly, sometimes appearing like new and well cared for. They are always out of my financial reach. But they are old and sometimes made by some recognized craftsperson whose name on a breadbox sends the price into the stratosphere.

That doesn’t stop just plain folk from seeking and actually acquiring the odd piece now and then “discovered” in a barn sale, junk shop, estate sale or at some roadside flea market in Searsport, Maine. It only needs to appear older than your parents and not contain any plastic.

Disclaimer – I have actually purchased old stuff. I once paid $800 for a four piece birds eye maple sleigh bed set: mirrored dresser with drawers, chest of drawers, night stand and bed. i slept in it for five years and sold it for $800. I think the gods were smiling on me at the time. Disclaimer #2: I think the antique game is the biggest scam on the planet, not including, of course the drug industry which holds that title for the entire universe and any possible worlds to come. Ah, but what do I know?

Someone once told me that to qualify as an antique a piece had to be at least 40 years old. After that point, say, if you paid $40 for that side table 40 years ago now you could ask $400 and and only a fool would think that unreasonable. Just so you know, I have been a fool over lots less.

The thing is, if it isn’t functional then what is it? Art? I’ve seen so many so-called antiques that seemed like junk, but I felt that I wasn’t qualified to venture an opinion, at the time. You know, if it’s scratched, dinged, split, cracked, scared, stained and – can I say it – just plain ugly – is it possible that it is what it seems to be: old and worn out? Not that there is anything wrong with being old and worn out – if you know what I mean.

Here you go: I have this old wooden “teacher’s” desk that came out of Tulane University when they replaced them with more functional units (meaning that the file drawer could be opened with your pinkie finger instead of the block and tackle usually required). I got it for the $50 I gave a couple of “Green Wave” football linemen to move it to my apartment. On the plus side, it’s big. As I think of it, that’s it’s only redeeming quality.

I have had it 30 years and I am sure Tulane used it for at least that. By any reckoning, it qualifies for antique status. It’s also from a prestigious institution. And it came here from way afar. As I mentioned, I have $50 in it. Here’s the deal: it’s yours for $300. You move it. It will require at least two varsity inside linemen – no pussy footing tight ends need apply – and a 2 ton truck to get it out of here. Deal?

It happens every year. Why we persist in the fantasy that we can sneak by without an April snow dump is quiet testimony to the glimmer of that primal spark of hapless hope that seems to reside within our hearts. We need to get over it folks or move well south of the 45th parallel.

So as I “pen” these words, buckets of wet, clinging spring snow have already interrupted the power a time or two and knocked out the cable. We are big cable people here – which means no phone, TV, internet or customer satisfaction. The power did come back after the “blip” but, as I said, cable did not, as it is made, obviously, of flimsier stuff.

I mean, I hate to admit it – I’m actually ashamed to admit it: I need electricity and by extension cable to do the critical internet stuff I do. Did I say critical? Perhaps that’s an ill chosen word. I couldn’t care less about TV. I never watch daytime TV, so that’s not a problem. My cell phone can work sometimes without cable and my femtocell unit, which is hooked to it. I have a signal booster that works as long as there is power. You see, we live in a sort of cell signal “slough of despond” here. Three steps in any direction and there is a dependable signal.

Since I have been sitting here there have been several power blips and I have resigned myself to this scenario for the rest of the day. I have plenty to eat, drink and read so so I am fixed for the duration.

This just in:

I got a call a minute ago from my doctor to schedule an MRI on my head. There seems to be some curiosity as to its contents. I tried to tell them what my head of full of but they need some hard evidence. I will be sure to let you know what they find. You can check it against your own list.

The MRI is really to check on, or more exactly, eliminate the presence of something that could be causing a drop in the hearing in my left ear. The trouble I have been having with my hearing is understanding what people are saying. I hear them, but I can’t understand them. Now I need to decide if understanding what other people are saying is worth the inflated price of a new pair of hearing aids. I’m thinking.

I don’t think it is my hearing aids, and besides, the damned things are so expensive they ought to last for frigging ever. Anyway, my audiologist, who is this really nice guy, wanted me to wear these new “gee whiz” demos for a while (a pair of the real things run close to $5000) while he hustles off to Augusta for the Masters this week. Well, (wink – wink) you think there is any connection between the Masters in Augusta and a $5000 pair of hearing aids? Just askin’.

So about now, I need a fresh infusion of darkroast. I have hung out the filled bird feeders and will trudge out to get the paper in a bit. All fires are stoked. There is a bit of shoveling to do. I haven’t made my bed yet. Hmm, the ideas are abounding.

Be well and stay tuned. GBH